It's not only the fantastic ice cream, beer, and entrees created at these spots that make us care deeply about them: From stepping up in the moment, to reopening their doors in models that contribute to greater equity, these establishments exemplify what it means to serve and nourish. Each also exhibits a sense hospitality that couldn't be bound by notions of "place" and "space."
This is why we so strongly advocate for restaurants, folks! This industry's ability to provide a hub for service-minded individuals is unparalleled… and sometimes, as in the cases below, they have the potential to do a remarkable amount of good together, even in the midst of a gal-dang pandemic.
Seek a spot at their tables (or, yunno, curbs for pickup).
Noting that whole stretches of the Twin Cities had become a food desert in a matter of days, Just/us sought to “bring food to the people of St. Paul and Minneapolis as they demand justice for George Floyd.” Mid-pandemic, for days on end, powered by PayPal donations, they provided the public with free meals at outdoor community spaces throughout the Twin Cities (including the memorial site at 38th and Chicago), and channeled all surplus tips and funds to Reclaim the Block. “It was alllll love!” As of this week, they’re back at home after their three-month COVID hiatus, slinging a totally revamped menu that’s available from their walk-up takeout window. 274 4th St. E., St. Paul
“It does not feel right for us to try and reopen for business and continue operating as we previously had,” south Minneapolis’s Modern Times cafe wrote on June 7, by way of announcing that after falling quiet for months, they would once again welcome guests – but under a new business model that better reflects the present social climate. “After becoming nearly inoperable because of the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by police terror and civil unrest, we decided to temporarily transition to a business model whose sole purpose is to foster and support our greater community.” In practice, this means staff are working as volunteers, the cafe will operate on a pay-what-you-can basis, and – with the blessing of a landlord who furloughed their rent – all proceeds from the month of June will be donated back to community coffers. 3200 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis
To support individuals protesting the murder of George Floyd and police brutality, the North Loop brewery switched up its operations, including closing the taproom and patio and temporarily suspending deliveries to better support protesters. Modist began offering protesters free hot dogs, first aid, water, and not-not the occasional complimentary beer… shh! They became a drop-off point for first aid supplies with the help of local musician (and street medic) Nur-D, and pledged to brew the “Black is Beautiful” stout, the proceeds of which they’ll donate to Justice Frontline Aid. All of the aforementioned is hugely generous no matter how you slice it, but extraordinarily so when taking into account the business forecast so many Minnesota craft brewers anticipate in the coming months. 505 N. Third St., Minneapolis
As soon as protests erupted seeking justice for George Floyd, the folks behind Eat Street's Pimento Jamaican Kitchen stepped into action. For a brief moment, takeout cuisine continued to flow from the business's restaurant side until the grassroots donation center that had sprung up on the Rum Bar side took precedence. There, they'd collected and distributed food, medical supplies, hygiene products, and home goods to the Whittier neighborhood since May 29. When restaurant operations resumed for takeout and delivery, it was alongside the team's coordinated supply distribution and fundraising efforts, which Scott McDonald, Pimento’s booking manager, told the Southwest Journal will "be here as long as the need is here for us to provide any food or services." 2524 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis
The worker-owned cafe run by the Radical Roots Collective has been adapting to the pandemic to safely serve the needs of their customers and the community, including online ordering of pantry staples that can be delivered to your door each Sunday. “We’ve always functioned as both restaurant and social center,” they wrote in an update about a month ago, which was accompanied by a photo of a new garden row mid-tending outside the cafe. Though guests must wait a bit longer to settle into the collective's booths for the breakfasts and lunches the cafe has served since 1974, the space and grounds have become a donation drop-off and distribution center for home goods and hygiene products, all while offering free meals daily to anyone in need. Never much for a fuss, they write, “We’re just the space; everything is from neighbors to neighbors.” 2129 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis
From already donating $10,000 to Black Visions Collective, Northside Funders Group, Reclaim the Block, We Love Lake Street, and the Racial Justice Network, to announcing an indefinite offer to provide those in need with free meals, and pausing marketing efforts due to an awareness of their dissonance right now, the linked establishments of World Street Kitchen and Milkjam Creamery have demonstrated through walk-not-talk why it’s worth sauntering into their joints, and soon. WSK has announced that they’ll be staying the takeout and delivery only course in this year of contagious revolution (or at least for the moment). Meanwhile, next-door buddy Milkjam Creamery just reopened its scoop shop to walk-in customers, who’ve long utilized the city’s fabulous summertime months for a good old stroll-and-lick anyway. 2743 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis